Lesson 6b - Introduction to Norse Mythology: The Major Gods and Races (Part II)
This week’s lesson is a wrap-up of the major gods of Norse mythology (part 3 will be the various races). If I did not include a god that you thought should have been included, send me a message or an ask and I will gladly make a post to mend it (either as an answer or as a separate post). Again, this list is not nearly an all-inclusive and all-informative one. I would love to provide extremely detailed posts about every figure of Norse mythology, but I am not yet capable. So, hopefully this list is educational and helpful to some, along with the first half of this lesson.
One that note, I shall continue with Njord (along with Skadi), Frey, Freya, Frigg, and Loki.
The Major Gods (con’t)
Something I failed to mention last lesson is that there are two families of gods, which are the Æsir, which we have discussed a few of already, and the Vanir. For quite some time these two families were at war with one another, but eventually made peace and essentially merged. (More on this while discussing some of the Vanir gods below).
Njord is best known as the father of Frey and Freya, and as the wife of Skadi. He is also a god of wealth, fertility and the sea. Even through the 18th and 19th century, some Norwegians thanked Njord for a bountiful catch.
In the Prose Edda, Njord is mentioned as the ruler of the winds, who can calm fire and the sea, as well as the patron of sailors and fishermen. Those who request his aid may also be granted other wealth, including land and jewels.
*Note: This mini-essay talks about whaling in a historical and cultural context, though it does not go into details. Just a heads up.
When I first started to recognize Njord’s presence in my life,
curiosity lead me to dig up what I could on him. This had stumbling on
the primary Thesis I will be referencing here, which is Whales,
Dolphins and Porpoises in the Economy and Culture of Peasant Fisherman
in Norway, Orkney, Shetland, Faroe Islands and Iceland, CA 900-1900 AD,
And Norse Greenland, CA 1000-1500 AD (Vol. 1) by Ole Lindquist; a
part of it which references a sacrifice to Njord of a Minke whale’s
tail. At which point I started digging up all I could on Scandinavian
Whaling practices in the Viking age, of which there is little more than
some references and speculation. I strongly suggest reading the thesis for
yourself if you have the time, as it goes into great detail about the
connection between whales and the Norwegian people at various points.
You know, I’m curious if there are eco-friendly ways to send messages to ocean/sea/river/lake/water deities that won’t
jack with the environment, but are still a physical way to send the
message, like writing a letter. (I like writing letters to my God Fam.) In my head I’m picturing carving a message into a shell for Poseidon or Aegir or Rán or Njord and dropping it into the ocean. I don’t really know shit about preservation, and I’ve
never actually left something outside somewhere like that, because I
just leave my letters for Hermes and Loki on my altar, but idk I was
just thinking about it? What are other creative ways of physically
sending messages that won’t harm the environment, like my little shell idea lol?
Incest is canon in the mythologies of many cultures. Nut was the sky goddess of Egyptian mythology, and her brother, Geb, was the earth god. They had a pretty wild sex life, and their children are the most famous of the Egyptian gods - Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nepthys (who also has incestuous relationships with each other). Nut and Geb’s father, Shu, thought that was pretty gross, and separated them.
Shu did the opposite of Norse god Njordr - when Njordr’s children, Frey and Freya, were accused by Loki of having an incestual relationship, Njordr asked, “Well, what’s wrong with that?”
This is completely irrelevant to the Loki’s I roleplay with, but I was really bored today in my math class and came up with my own twist to fit Skadi, the Norse goddess of winter, archery, and skiing, in the Marvel Thor franchise.
Important things to note: (Please read this before the rest of my… little essay and keep it in mind while you read it) I have very little knowledge of the comic books so most of my information is based off of what I picked up from the 2011 Thor movie. This is sort of also linked to The Avengers movie, but, as I have yet to see Thor: The Dark World (three more days!!!) there may not not any of that in this. Also, please keep in mind that the comics are very different from the original mythology and this is my own OC, so there is a lot in the mythology that I changed so it would fit my vision of the character and how she would fit into the Marvel universe.
Subtitle: Your UPG is probably totally legit, and here’s why.
I am no expert here, this is all from my gut and from listening to a lot of folks discussing UPG. My personal bias is this: I believe in coming from the lore we have and extrapolating out UPG from there based on reading, personal practice, and journalistic writing analyzing those base texts when accessible. That bias stated, let’s continue.
PART ONE: Polytheism in Norse revival practices.
I feel like I constantly hear people saying things like, Loki came to me, but that opened the door, and now I’ve got Odin (or Sigyn or Angrboda or whomever). Or, Freyja came to me, but now I also have felt needlings from Freyr and/or Njordr. This concept that when we access this pantheon with intention, the relatives of our access point come a-knocking. I feel that most people have experienced this, from what I have read, so I am not going to dwell too much on this point, as it’s mostly a base concept for where I’m going with it.
What all this boils down to, for me, is “Relationships are important in Norse practices.”
PART TWO: Relationship schematics within personal practice.
I am using myself as an example here, but because of the aforementioned, I feel these things are hopefully understandable and/or relatable. Hel came to me first and I have always been hers. But the more I spent time with her, the more it was important for me to understand her in relation to her father; her in relation to her mother; her in relation to her siblings. So, again as an example, Hel brought me to Wolf and Tyr. Hel also brought me to Loki, who brought me to Sigyn and Angrboda. These are not my only ‘connections,’ but again, examples.
But it’s interesting: personally speaking, my relationship with Hel is incredibly intimate—at times feeling like an actual part of her; at times feeling like she’s my mother; at times feeling like a best friend. She is my mother literally in some aspects, so I put this up to a very intimate familial relationship. How I see her is how I would have the knowledge of the kind of person if you had a really solid, supportive, mother relationship. I see her very up close and personal, for lack of better terms. However.
My relationships with Loki is more like a grandfather. He drops in for visits “on holiday” (not literally, I’m speaking about frequency in a perceived ‘standard family dynamic™’) and so does Angrboda. My knowings of Loki are simply not as intimate as someone who has a personal relationship with Loki that is as intimate as mine with Hel. I may know Loki likes coffee, but I don’t know the things he would only tell his closest confidantes—because I’m not one. That doesn’t make me less valuable: it just makes our relationships different.
What this boils down to, for me, is “Just as different people in our lives see different pieces of us— just as who we are to our friends may not be the same as who we are to our distant cousins, or to our grandfathers, or whatever ‘normal’ or ‘fucked up’ dynamic exists—just as that is true for us,” so too is it true for the gods with whom we work.”
PART THREE: How this applies to the multiplicity of UPG.
I want to point this out not to have a ‘who’s the best devotee’-off—That completely misses my point. My point is that if we can acknowledge that our best friend may know that “you only drink coffee when you’re missing your girlfriend,” your grandfather probably doesn’t know that. That doesn’t make your best friend ‘more valuable’ than your grandfather. Each relationship is important.
Not saying you can’t bring those relationships closer or more emotionally intimate, but the degrees of intimacy vary, and with that, information dissemination. So it would follow that while I personally have the ‘grandfather’ level of intimacy with Loki, I probably have different UPG than someone who has a father or best friend level intimacy with him. He is showing us two different faces. This does not make him inauthentic: the moon is still the whole moon, no matter which phase of it in the night sky we are perceiving. The moon is still the moon.
So while there is a base person—for example, if you were to say, Loki is actually someone who would never lie, never think outside the box, and you experience him as the upstanding moral citizen who loves rainbows and the status quo, I’m going to say that’s poor UPG inasmuch as it directly contradicts the only known information we have about him. However, if you tell me that Loki speaks to you of fire while he speaks to me of electricity, I see how these things can co-exist without either one being wrong at all.
The one does not invalidate the other; just different phases of the same moon.
PART FOUR: Complications and lessons.
Then, to add just one more piece to this mix, there is also the question of the faces of our gods. Are you seeing Odin the Wanderer? Odin the Frenzy? Odin the Poet? Odin the most intimidating gunslinger this side of Texas person on Asgard? That also, I think, would change your UPG. I think this is how, for example, Raven Kaldera can say he has an incredibly intimate relationship with Hel as well, but a lot of my UPG does not match his. Reading what he has written, however, it seems he has seen a lot of what I call the Hel Hailstorm aspect, or the face of her that deals in ordeals.
As an alternate example, for me, (using myself specifically again), when I’m giving offerings to Hel As Herself Wholly, I have a set of go-tos (roses, hematite, bones, etc). However, if I want to talk to her in her aspect as someone who deals with ancestor veneration and memoriams, I’m thinking juniper and magpies. When I am thinking of honouring not just her death side but also her living flesh, there’s hummingbirds and rose quartz. I have the intimacy to see all of these sides of her; perhaps some people will only see some, and not all, of the sides.
All of these are simultaneously true.
PART FIVE: Overlap and ‘validation.’
But at the end of the day, someone having different UPG than you means very little. Your relationship with your deities is yours and you are your own spiritual authority. You can pry my association of amethyst and Sigyn from my cold dead hands (and citrine with Loki and so ametrine with Logyn), though I know not many people share that, and I’ve made peace with that.
It’s exciting to find overlap—to me, that just shows me that the relationship I have with Hel is similar to the relationship the other person has with Hel. I was pleasantly surprised with lavenderwrath and I shared so much (though not all) UPG, and bedaelia too. This does not make us more correct, it means that we have seen the same ‘moon phase’ and have the same or a similar intimacy level with her.
It is exhausting to keep that level of intimacy with so many deities—which is precisely why I also keep hearing that people tend to practice around one and branch out honouring in varying degrees other deities that relate to their main deity. I don’t think there is anything wrong with not having an intense level of intimacy with everyone you honour. There is no way I could dedicate the same intimacy I give to Hel also to Freyr and to Loki and to Skadi. I just can’t.
For me, this is not a shortcoming. For me, it lets me know that someone who who has a closer intimacy to Skadi may have more or different insight. I might be inclined to listen to them ‘first’ and see what resonates for me out of respect and acknowledgement of their experience, but if it doesn’t resonate, I just hold with the fact that that was not the face of the god meant for me to see or the relationship that god desired of me. And frankly, I think that’s beautiful. It makes us all a family tree here on earth, both part of their family and to each other.
And in a strange way, I’m wondering if that is exactly what the gods are asking us to create as we revive this dead religion.
Are beginnings really important? Yer born, yeh live, and its everything else that seems to make up the sum of our parts. But yeah, beginnings are important. At birth I was taken away from my family, raised separately. It wasn’t till later that I came to know the family that I have, by then it was to late, when I fell in love with her. A family of our own we had, and then war came knocking on our door… Nah, lets just say it had been brewing for awhile, but it took a good shake before things came to blows.
So, war happens. Blood is spilled, lives are lost, and what do we do when the tempers give way to reason? Yeh make peace that’s what. Pacts and treaties are made. Hostages are taken, the honored hostages of the Gods. I’d say the guys that I was traded for got the shorter end of the stick, while my children and I were always treated well, and became part of a very complicated world, preparing for the inevitable ending of all things… I was remarried under odd but interesting circumstances, most certainly I tried to make the best of it, unfortunately we just couldn’t get along, even she tried, I’ll certainly give her that. They say opposites attract, but this was never the case for us.
That pretty much sums up ancient past. If yeh wanna get down the nitty gritty details, well yer in for a very long story. In what seems to be modern times, the God’s are still very much present both here and in Asgard. Yeh heard me right, I said Asgard, and don’t be goin on about the Thor movie now, they did him wrong for the simple fact they made him blond and not the fiery red head he is. It’s said Ragnarok is comin, it is, but yeh got it all wrong, because its already happened a few time over at least. But what is coming is bigger then I could even begin to describe, and I’m not goin to spoil the fun by letting yeh in on things that have yet to happen. Stay tuned it’ll be a wild ride…